Would you rather sit in multiple court hearings over two years, or pay $75 and avoid that situation altogether? Most folks would opt for the latter; then again, most folks aren’t 67-year-old Marla Leaf.
On February 5, 2015, Leaf received a $75 speeding ticket after an automated speed camera on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, clocked her Ford Mustang traveling at 68 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.
Shortly afterward, Leaf got the ticket in the mail—and immediately appealed it. She insisted she was driving the speed limit due to icy roads that day, and was therefore not guilty.
“Why should I pay for a ticket I didn’t do?” Leaf asked. “Why should others have to pay for tickets they didn’t do?”
Leaf first appealed to a city administrative hearing officer, then to her district’s court, and finally to the Iowa Court of Appeals in February. All three courts ruled against her—so she took her case to the very top.
Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court heard her case, in combination with a similar case involving six vehicle owners who all took issue with Cedar Rapids’ use of the automated ticketing systems.
The automated camera that clocked Leaf’s speed was the property of Gatso USA, a private company that sends pictures of speeding vehicles to Iowa state law enforcement officials. Those officials then issue tickets based on Gatso USA’s reporting.
Leaf, alongside her lawyer James Larew, maintains that giving a private company police power is illegal. In addition, Leaf and Larew claim the system is flawed, as the cameras do not also ticket tractor-trailers or government vehicles.
It will still be several months before the state Supreme Court justices make any decision. However, this case could raise further questions regarding automated speed cameras—Iowa being the only state to allow these cameras on interstate highways.